Thursday, March 31, 2011

Books Read in March 2011

This month was a doozy of reading. It's amazing how much reading a person can get done when they're stuck sitting in their car for 12 hours a week (lol). I've blogged about some of these books, but not all of them.

Books Read in March 2011 - Total 16

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
Blackout by Rob Thurman

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
Dead on Delivery by Eileen Rendahl
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
Spirit Dances by C.E. Murphy

Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead
Dead to Me by Anton Strout
Of Swine and Roses by Ilona Andrews
A Hundred Word for Hate by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Under Wraps by Hannah Jayne

The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlyn Chase

What I can say is this - anything by Melissa Marr or Rob Thurman is always ALWAYS phenomenal - and therefore they earn the ultimate 6 stars.

In the 5 star category - all of these are amazing books. I'm a huge fan of the Seanan McGuire and I think Eileen Rendahl's books are amazing. Patricia Briggs books blew me away. All have strong female leads & well developed worlds & characters.

In 4 stars is the latest Eugenie (Richelle Mead) novel - Eugenie pisses me off, so that has an effect on my liking of the book. I think she's weird and an idiot. And I don't like Kiyo at all. I do love Dorian, tho. Remy (T. Sniegoski) Chandler - I love this series although I sometimes think it gets bogged down in things not necessary to the storyline. Simon Canderous (Anton Strout) is an interesting character, but like Eugenie, his personality tended to annoy me & I thought his organization was a bunch of buffoons. Good story though. And Ilona Andrews short story is very enjoyable (I wish it was longer).

3 Stars - Under Wraps by Hannah Jayne. This is a cute story, the lead character is a total flake, and I liked it. My problem with it is the "sexy" male love interest kept turning me off. (Spongebob undies? Come on...) And I thought the last chapter ended abruptly with a cliffhanger & a shocker that ruined a part of the story for me (because it just didn't make sense). Maybe the sequel will explain it?...

Finally 2 Stars - The Werewolf Upstairs. What can I say? It's one of those books that was too silly for me to like. And I didn't really get the lead female. It's me, not the book. I have to say, I did like the werewolf (he was definitely sexy). Maybe if I was reading it in the summer on the beach with a cold beer... anyway, I'd still read the rest in this series. (But I'd have to be in the right mood for them.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spirit Dances by C.E. Murphy (5 Stars)

Spirit Dances by C.E. Murphy is the sixth book in her Walker Papers series. The series revolves around Joanne Walker. In the first book, Joanne has no clue what she is. She works as a mechanic for the police, although she has trained to be a cop. That all ends when she sees a woman attacked on the ground from a plane in the air (something that is impossible). And she is forced to face the reality that she is a shaman. She's not exactly happy about it.

Over the course of the series, Joanne grows into her powers and learns to accept who she is. She discovers a lot about her past that she'd blocked out after a traumatic incident. She also grows closer to her boss, Morrison, although neither one of them will do anything about it because of that. Yet, through it all, Morrison is the one that always seems to be there to help her through the difficulties she faces. There are some wonderful quirky characters in this series - Gary, the cab driver who picks her up in the first book & becomes her friend. Billy, her cross dressing partner.

By the time you hit Spirit Dances, Joanne is a shaman and comfortable in her skin. That's not to say she doesn't have anything to learn -- she's got a long way to go. But she's accepted her destiny and it shows.

Spirit Dances starts out with Joanne being forced to shoot a woman during a domestic incident call in order to save Billy - which goes against everything she believes in. Then she accidentally asks Morrison to attend the theatre with her and ooh boy, you think they're going to finally kiss. Instead, a whole series of disastrous things happen that keep her running from place to place as she tries to save the day. The end of this book took my breath away. The last sentence was a shocker. I had to go back and reread it a couple of times for it to sink in. I think I'm traumatized by what was revealed. (And I loved it! - even if I'm devastated...)

This series doesn't get the publicity it deserves. It's one I've been following for a long time. But when I bought the first book, I bought it on a whim because I liked the cover & I'm a sucker for trade paperbacks. After reading the first book, I had to hunt down the next two because no one around me carried them (and I have 9 bookstores within 30 mins. of me!). I ended up having to buy them thru Amazon. I'm happy to say the last three books have been at my local stores, tho not in great numbers. It's just sad.

Each book in the Walker Papers series from Urban Shaman (the first book) draws you deeper into Joanne's world as more and more of her is revealed. You'll cringe at her mistakes and cheer for her triumphs. And I promise you'll be just as nuts as me wanting her and Morrison to just go for it.

These books get progressively better. Joanne (the unenlightened Joanne) pissed me off a bit. I wanted her to stop being difficult and learn. But as she grows, I liked her more and more. I love Morrison and their interactions. Gary is a wonderful character who adds a level head and a sense of humor. Billy cracks me up. And his family is this calm in the storm that is Joanne. The world that C.E. Murphy creates is well thought-out and fascinating. She draws on both Native American and Irish culture, which mixes surprisingly well. This book was my favorite of the series so far. I give it 5 stars.

Definitely a series worth owning.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

I love reading series as a whole. So, sometimes I'll buy a series but put off reading it until there are several books in it. Patricia Briggs series with Mercy Thompson is one of those series that's been sitting on my bookshelf for months (well, okay, maybe a year - I've added the new books as they came out, but until now I haven't read them). I think it was because it was werewolves. That's no excuse on my part. I love all things supernatural except werewolves. Because in my head, they're these awfully hairy (I knew a guy once I'd swear was a werewolf from all the hair growing on him...yuck) men & in my head it would have to HURT to shift.

So Mercy has sat there waiting for me to get over my dislike of werewolves and reach a point where I felt like reading about her.

I am officially stupid.

These are fantastic books. Mercy is a magical shapeshifter (a coyote), born of a teenage mother and a rodeo cowboy native american father. She never knew her father. Her mother, not knowing how to deal with a shapeshifter daughter, turned her over to the head werewolf to raise. She's an auto mechanic who lives next door to Adam, pack leader of the local werewolves. Mercy understands werewolves, but she's not particularly liked by them. She's under Bran's (the man who raised her) protection, tho & Adam has claimed her as mate to protect her as well. Well, okay, maybe its more than just protecting her.

Are the wolves scary. Maybe a little bit. But they're also sexy and loyal and intense. And yes, it hurts them to shift. But reading about it wasn't the torture I expected it to be because they're so compelling. I love how Patricia Briggs relayed the pack mentality and the individual roles of the various wolves within it. I think it's brilliantly done.

Mercy doesn't have just Adam to deal with, tho. She has Samuel - Bran's son - he's a very old werewolf who had claimed her as a teenager. Not because he loved her, but because he wanted children & werewolf women can't have children. Mercy ran from him when she learned the truth, which is how she came to live in Adam's territory. Samuel went lone-wolf & he's not doing so well. (Mercy lived with her mother for a while, but their relationship is awkward, because her mother is remarried & has other children who didn't know about Mercy.)

Anyway, Mercy is very self-sufficient. She's used to being rejected & so doesn't allow anyone to get close enough that she has to deal with it. You know how that's going, right? She can't possibly keep out everyone - Adam, Samuel, Adam's daughter Jessie, Zee (the fae something who sold her the shop), Warren (a gay werewolf), Kyle (his lover), Ben (a badass wolf), or Stefan (a vampire who's car she repairs who is in love with her, too).

Some really horrible things happen to Mercy in this series. And some really wonderful things. From book to book, she adapts to everything and grows. And I seriously would love to go on and on about everything that happens, but that would mean spoilers & I'm just not going to do it.

My favorite scene is one in which Adam is kneeling in front of her and presses his face to her stomach. Swear to God, it took my breath away. He's patient, strong, and he really loves her. As Alpha, it makes their relationship tricky - especially because she doesn't want to be controlled & he really doesn't want to control her - going against all instincts. (Okay, I might have a mad crush on Adam...he's...yum...sigh....delicious.)

If you've never read this series, I recommend it. Strongly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

alpha vs. submissive

I'm reading Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series right now (why I haven't read these books before, I have no freaking clue...they're fantastic). So, it got me thinking about my family dynamics and what's been going on in my house and the alpha role.

First, I have to say I'm one of four sisters. If I'd been asked who the alpha in my family was when I was a child, I would have said my father. Certainly, he was the one who meted punishments and we were all sufficiently cowed by him. But I would have been wrong. My mother is the alpha in our family. My father is her second - her enforcer, so to speak. He does what she says, and when he doesn't she makes him pay. Its in interesting thing to realize. It is a rare occasion when one of us challenges her - and the results usually aren't pretty. (Actually, I'm really the only one who can do it and walk away - so to speak.)

Within my sisters and I, I would have said I was submissive - maybe even the most submissive of us. Again, I would be wrong. Oh, I'm not saying I don't act submissive. I prefer to have others take the lead. Until I don't. Yesterday, I got a call from one sister who needed advice about work. Then I got a call from another sister for advice about her daughter. And it dawned on me. I'm the one they all call (including my mother and father) when they need someone as a sounding board. I'm the one they all use to reason out things and help them determine what the best move is. In addition, when one of us needs to be put in their place, I'm the one that does it. And yet, I don't look to any of them for anything. I make my decisions on my own. Does that make me the alpha? Or the alpha in training? I think maybe it does.

And then I looked at my husband's family. He's the youngest of four (3 boys, 1 girl). There is no question that his mother is uber alpha. The only photos she has of her children fit in a single shoe box - and in all of them, she is front and center. She rules their family with a powerful hand. All of her childrens' bedrooms remain just as they left them - even tho all of them have been married for at least 18 years. She told me its so they always know they can come home. She and I have battled over everything since day one. Not that I don't like her. I just won't be pushed around by her. And the rest of the family either is annoyed by this or is impressed by it. My father in law is the most submissive man I've ever met. When I first started dating my husband, I was horrified by the way he was treated. I remember specifically one day telling them all to cut it out and treat him with respect. I remember them all looking at me with surprise (like they couldn't believe I'd stand up for him) but they did what I demanded.

I would say, in his family, my husband is the second, with the others falling below him and my f-i-l at the bottom. They all rely on my husband in the same way my family relies on me, but he is extremely subservient to his mother. He won't make any decision without her opinion. It's created some tricky moments for us, because I don't care about her opinion at all.

Finally, there is my own little pack - my husband, my son and myself. I'm most definitely the alpha in my house. Well...for now. I let my husband make a lot of decisions, and I'm content with that. Until I'm not. He always backs down. But I find myself in an interesting position, because my 16 yr. old son is an alpha. He's a strong alpha. He's already bumped my husband down a notch. And he's starting to try to boss me - refusing to do what I 'suggest'. It's....fascinating. Will I win or will he? Who will come out on top? I don't know. But it could be a real pain in the ass for me finding out.

So have you ever looked at your family dynamics like that? And where do you rank?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr - review/rating

Because I've been reading so many great books this month, I decided I needed to blog about them individually instead of just summing them up as a whole at the end of the month. First up?

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr (6 stars)

Yes, you read that right. 6 stars! And I'll tell you why....This book is the culmination of the Wicked Lovely series of books and I thought it was brilliant.

In Wicked Lovely, we learn the story of Ash, Seth and Keenan. It introduces us to the dark emotionally charged world of the fae. The second book, Ink Exchange, deals with Leslie (Ash's friend), Niall and Irial (my favorite character in the entire series - which says something about me, I'm sure). Fragile Eternity is once again about Ash and Seth, and the consequences of her becoming the Summer Queen. Radiant Shadows introduces Ani, while pulling in characters from the other books as unrest comes to the fae world because of all the changes. Mixed in this are two short stories - Stopping Time and Old Habits (Leslie, Niall and Irial). Each book builds on the world Melissa Marr has created. Each book leaves you despairing of a happily ever after for any of the characters. And finally comes Darkest Mercy, which brings back most of the characters from the books as they all finally have to deal with the choices they've made and the ramifications of those choices.

The book is fast paced, and from multiple viewpoints. Niall is scary as hell in his grief. Seth is resolute and steadfast in his love for not just Aislinn (Ash), but for all the fae he's come to care about. Ash, Leslie, Irial, Donia, Keenan, Gabriel -- each and every one of them plays in important part in bringing the story to it's conclusion.

I talked to this book, I might have scolded it, too. I could not read it without setting it down multiple times to digest what I'd read. That doesn't happen often for me. At points, I wanted to weep for the characters (especially Irial). There are deaths in this book - and its all the richer for them. There is no guarantee of a happily ever after. Unless the characters can put aside their hurt and anger, none of them will survive the war that is coming. Now, there are some people who will say that more of the characters should have died, or that not enough of the characters paid a heavy price for their happiness, but I say it ended perfectly.

I'd give each and every book in this series a 5 star rating - and like I said, Darkest Mercy gets 6 stars (which means it surpassed my expectations). An amazing end to a thoroughly enjoyable series.

(Then again, maybe there should be more stories about Irial??!.....)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiiiime is not on my siiide...(a crabby post)

(sing it like Mick Jagger, people)

I miss the days when my kid was little. I miss my "me time" at night. I miss my "me time" in the morning. I miss having time during the day to take my time and do my errands, chores, etc. I miss my organized house. I miss the quiet.

I feel like I'm living in my car (I'm a glorified bus driver - sigh).

It's too far to drive home while the kid is at classes. It's too far to go shopping anywhere. I'm putting 300 miles a week on my car as is. Besides it's 8 years old and showing its age (the bottom plate is held up by duct tape).

There is no internet in the parking lot of campus where the kid is taking classes. I can only people watch for so long. The upside is I can sit there freezing my ass off and read. I'm cranking through my TBR pile (well, okay, I'm not because the only time I get to read is in the damn car).

My doctor put me on anti-depressants. I need them. Badly.

Reading "A Hundred Words for Hate" by Thomas Sniegoski. Its a serious book and probably not a good read for my current state of mind, but I'm enjoying it. Next up "Iron Crowned" by Richelle Mead.